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Middle-East updates: Israeli politicians clash over Gaza

Published May 15, 2024last updated May 15, 2024

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant publicly urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to develop a postwar plan for Gaza. Netanyahu said Hamas must be defeated first. Follow DW for more.

Yoav Gallant, Defense Minister of Israel, attends memorial ceremony for the fallen and victims of terrorism in Israel
The televised statement by Gallant marked the most vocal dissent from within Israel's top echelonImage: Shachar Yurman/Israeli Defense Ministry/dpa/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • The US prepares weapons package for Israel, which includes support for tank ammunition and mortar rounds
  • Palestinians mark Nakba Day amid the ongoing war in Gaza
  • A Hezbollah commander has reportedly been killed in a strike by Israeli drones in southern Lebanon

Here are the latest updates from the Israel-Hamas war and the wider Middle East region on Thursday, May 15:

Skip next section PM Netanyahu under fire from all sides over lack of plan for Gaza
May 15, 2024

PM Netanyahu under fire from all sides over lack of plan for Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was sharply criticized on Wednesday for his lack of foresight when it comes to the future of Gaza, both from abroad and within his own Cabinet.

Netanyahu has insisted that post-war planning in Gaza remains impossible until Hamas is completely destroyed.

The United States, for instance, has been calling on Israel to present a plan for Gaza's future for months and has publicly voiced disappointed over a lack thereof, insisting they have yet to see one.

Speaking during a visit in Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said Washington did not consider further Hamas governance nor an Israeli occupation of the enclave satisfactory, "we also can't have anarchy and a vacuum that's likely to be filled by chaos." 

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was blunt in his criticism of Netanyahu, saying: "I call on the prime minister to announce that Israel will not rule over Gaza militarily. An alternative to Hamas governance should be established." 

"Since October, I have been raising this issue consistently in the Cabinet, and have received no response. I must reiterate — I will not agree to the establishment of Israeli military rule in Gaza," said Gallant in a televised statement.

"The 'day after Hamas' will only be achieved with Palestinian entities taking control of Gaza, accompanied by international actors, establishing a governing alternative to Hamas' rule," he added, "This, above all, is in interest of the State of Israel."

Netanyahu had previously brushed aside discussions of Gaza's future as "empty talk." 

"Until it is clear that Hamas does not militarily control Gaza, no entity will be willing to take civilian management of Gaza for fear of its well-being," read a statement issued by his office.

A social media statement from the prime minister himself said, "The first condition for preparing the ground for another entity is to destroy Hamas, and to do so without making excuses."

Both Netanyahu's and Gallant's words have stirred others in the government to comment, with War Cabinet member Benny Gantz saying that Gallant: "spoke the truth. The responsibility of leadership is to do right thing for the country, at any price."

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, on the other hand, went on the attack, saying: "The Minister of Defence failed on October 7 and continues to fail today. Such a Minister of Defence must be replaced in order to achieve the goals of the war."

Post-war scenario for Gaza still elusive

Skip next section EU warns Israel's Rafah operations are straining relations
May 15, 2024

EU warns Israel's Rafah operations are straining relations

The European Union reiterated its calls for Israel to cease its military operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Wednesday.

A statement from the bloc's diplomatic service, headed by Josep Borrell, said the operations were "leading to more internal displacement, exposure to famine and human suffering" as well as blocking essential humanitarian aid.

The statement went on to say that Israel's military activity in Rafah — which has been widely condemned including by Israel's closest allies — was straining the country's relations with the EU.

"Should Israel continue its military operation in Rafah, it would inevitably put a heavy strain on the EU’s relationship with Israel," it said.

The EU pointed out that under international law, Israel must allow access to humanitarian relief. It also condemned recent Hamas attacks and again called for efforts to achieve a cease-fire.

Skip next section Palestinians mark the Nakba amid war in Gaza
May 15, 2024

Palestinians mark the Nakba amid war in Gaza

As the war in Gaza continues to rage, Palestinians are marking Nakba Day, a commemoration of the loss of their homeland during and after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that led to the founding of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948.

Observers say there could be clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the West Bank in view of the ongoing conflict and the massive displacement of Palestinians.

Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe) Memorial Day is held on May 15 every year, with marches and demonstrations being staged across the Palestinian territories.

This year, sirens are expected to sound for 76 seconds in Ramallah in the West Bank — one second for each of the 76 years since more than 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes amid the Arab-Israeli war.

DW explores the meaning of Nakba Day for Palestinians here.

Skip next section Hezbollah commander reportedly killed in Israeli airstrike
May 15, 2024

Hezbollah commander reportedly killed in Israeli airstrike

The Israeli army says a senior commander of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia died in an airstrike by Israeli drones in southern Lebanon.

A source close to the Iran-backed group confirmed to the AFP news agency that a field commander was among the dead. This was also reported by several Lebanese news outlets, which named the commander as Hussein Makki.

The Israeli military said the man was reportedly responsible for planning and carrying out numerous attacks against Israeli civilians and Israeli territory.

Two people were said to have been killed in the strike on a car on Tuesday evening.

Since the beginning of Israel's offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip in response to Hamas' deadly October 7 raid in southern Israel, there have been daily confrontations between the Israeli army and the Hezbollah militia and other groups in the border area between Israel and Lebanon.

Both sides have suffered casualties, and more than 90,000 have fled southern Lebanon's border region, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Skip next section US plans $1 billion arms shipment for Israel
May 15, 2024

US plans $1 billion arms shipment for Israel

The administration of President Joe Biden has informed Congress of a planned $1 billion (€0.92 billion) weapons shipment to Israel, official sources said.

The weapons package includes $700 million for tank ammunition, $500 million for tactical vehicles, and $60 million for mortar rounds.

The government has also initiated the authorization process in Congress, although it is at an early stage.

This latest development comes a week after the United States withheld some so-called heavy bombs over concerns aboutcivilian casualties in Gaza.

The US paused the bomb transfer to prevent their use in Rafah, a densely populated city in southern Gaza.

International allies and aid groups have repeatedly warned Israel against a ground incursion in Rafah, where many Palestinians had previously fled.

Meanwhile, Israeli tanks pushed deeper into Rafah as the country said it must root out Hamas battalions holed up there.

Israeli army restarts fighting in northern Gaza

The latest US shipment is not part of the recent $95 billion defense package passed by Congress and signed by Biden, which includes aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

While some of Biden's fellow Democrats have pushed the administration to limit transfers of offensive weapons to Israel, seeking to limit Palestinian civilian casualties, Republicans said a pause would weaken Israel against Hamas and other Iran-backed groups.

On Monday, national security spokesman John Kirby emphasized that the administration would continue to support Israel's defense needs.

Kirby said Biden is "going to continue to provide Israel with all of the capabilities it needs, but he does not want certain categories of American weapons used in a particular type of operation in a particular place. And again, he has been clear and consistent with that."

ss/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)